Download the Official App!

View View


Top Spots Within the Setouchi Region for Admiring Traditional and Modern Japanese Artworks [PR]

The Setouchi region is home to many distinct art spots that have shaped the area's history. Naturally, there is traditional Japanese art, a must-see when in the country, as well as modern art that continues to be at the forefront of innovation. Here is a curated selection of the most recommended spots in the area!

Setouchi Triennale

This large art event takes place primarily on the various islands of the Seto Inland Sea, such as Naoshima and Ogijima. It has been held once every 3 years since 2010.

The event has garnered international attention, with top artists from Japan and abroad participating, and the number of international visitors has also steadily increased over the years, to the point where it is now known as an international art event.
This is a guide to selected areas featuring popular works from past festivals along with current installations. Event details for the 2019 Setouchi Triennale are also included, so be sure to keep the dates in mind and come check out all of these vibrant pieces bursting with artistic energy!

It's Finally Happening Next Year! Details for the 2019 Setouchi Triennale

The dates have already been decided, and the concepts this time around are based on seasons, with the three exhibition periods titled Spring Encounters, Summer Gatherings, and Autumn Expansions. Tickets are also already on sale, and can be purchased from the official homepage for the event. The theme for the 2019 art festival is "Restoration of the Sea", a belief espoused by the Setouchi Triennale ever since the event's inception. This large-scale event brings art from the Seto Inland Sea to the world and helps foster connectivity, so be sure to make a visit!

2019 Setouchi Triennale

Dates: Spring (April 26 - May 26), Summer (July 19 - August 25), Autumn (September 28 - November 4)

Triennale Passport Prices:
3 Season Passport: Regular 4,800 JPY, Special Advance Purchase Price 3,800 JPY (November 8, 2018 - April 25, 2019: Guests 16 - 18 years old 3,000 JPY (*I.D. required, only available for purchase at location on day of event))
*(During exhibition dates, artwork (installations) can each be viewed one time)

Seasonal Limited Passport: Regular 4,000 JP, Visitors 16 - 18 years old 2,500 JPY (I.D. required, only available for purchase at location on day of event)
*(Spring-only, summer-only, and autumn-only available. During exhibition dates, artwork (installations) can each be viewed one time)

Tickets for spring go on sale April 26, 2019, and tickets for summer and autumn go on sale immediately before the preceding season ends.
*Viewing free for visitors 15 and under.
*No discount for entry into Chichu Art Museum or Teshima Art Museum.
*Additional fees may apply for some individual works or events.

2019 Setouchi Triennale

Main Art Installations Available for Viewing

Chinu, the Black Sea Bream of Uno

This work is by Yodogawa Technique, a Japanese artist who creates artwork in many regions using garbage and flotsam collected primarily from the floodplain of the Yodo River in Osaka. The sculpture has been displayed at Okayama's Uno Port, facing the Seto Inland Sea, since the first art festival, and has undergone many touch-ups to achieve its current state.

Seeing these cast-off daily items, reborn through colorful coats of paint, bringing smiles to visitors is a heartwarming sight indeed.

(c) Yodogawa Technique / "Chinu, the Black Sea Bream of Uno" / Photo: Osamu Nakamura

Chinu, the Black Sea Bream of Uno

1-1-4 Chikko, Tamano-shi, Okayama 岡山県玉野市築港1-1-4

Bottom Sky

This piece, created by the Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev, is installed near the sea at Kasashima on Honjima, one of the participating islands in the event. The artwork is made from light materials, and when the wind blows, the old nets and ropes hanging from the boat, as well as the whole vessel itself, gently sway in the breeze, making the boat appear to be floating through the air.

Boats are very important to the islanders and have played a large part in sustaining their livelihood, so viewing the installation with this is in mind is also quite interesting.

(c) Alexander Ponomarev / "Bottom Sky" / Photo: Shintaro Miyawaki

Bottom Sky

Kasashima, Honjima-cho, Marugame-shi, Kagawa 香川県丸亀市本島町笠島

No One Wins - Multibasket

The Spanish artists Llobet & Pons created this piece, which is installed in the park at Karatohama, Teshima. Visitors can actually use the installation to play basketball!

This work features 6 basketball hoops are affixed to a board in the shape of Teshima. Use your imagination and have fun playing by your own rules!

(c) Llobet & Pons / "No One Wins - Multibasket" / Photo: Kimito Takahashi

No One Wins - Multibasket

2614 Karato, Teshima, Tonosho-cho, Shozu-gun, Kagawa 香川県小豆郡土庄町豊島唐櫃2614

The Kanrin House

"The Kanrin House" is a piece by Rikuji Makabe, a Japanese painter and muralist. This is the house where a sailor on the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship to cross the Pacific, actually lived, and it has been heavily remodeled, resulting in the whole house becoming a piece of art! This piece is on Honjima, along with The Sky Under Water, and can be viewed in the Tomari area.

Viewers here will feel the weight of the colors on the walls, lit by what little light penetrates inside the house, and come under the strange impression that they have lost their way inside the very heart of the sailor who once lived here long ago. Light filtering through the stained glass windows further add to the fantastic effect here.

(c) Rikuji Makabe / "The Kanrin House" / Photo: Yasushi Ichikawa

Exhibition planned for autumn season (September 28 - November 4) of Setouchi Triennale 2019.

The Kanrin House

666 Tomari, Honjima-cho, Marugame-shi, Kagawa 香川県丸亀市本島町泊666

Ogijima's Soul

This work is by Jaume Plensa, an artist from Spain. Located on Ogijima, one of the participating locations in the event, this semi-translucent structure was made to welcome visitors to the island.

The silhouettes of the letters decorating the roof transform into shadows as they are projected onto the white floor. This piece not only uses light and shadow to create to art, but also incorporates the seaside scenery, resulting in a fresh, vibrant creation.

(c) Jaume Plensa / "Ogijima's Soul" / Photo: Osama Nakamura

Hours: 6:30 am - 5:00 pm (*Outside can be viewed at any time).
Days Closed: None
Admission: Free

Ogijima's Soul

Ogicho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa 香川県高松市男木町

Beyond the Border - the Ocean

"Seed Boat" is by Taiwanese artist Lin Shueng Long. This piece, around 9m in circumference, is located near Takamatsu Port in Kagawa prefecture, and features fruit from the "fish poison tree" that has drifted ashore from Taiwan as a motif. It was displayed on Teshima during the 2013 Setouchi Triennale, then returned home to Taiwan in 2014, after which it was installed near Takamatsu Port during the Setouchi Triennale 2016. The work goes beyond simply representing a seed that has washed ashore, evoking the feeling of a small Taiwanese forest.

(c) Lin Shuen Long / "Beyond the Border - the Ocean" / Photo: Yasushi Ichikawa

Hours: Outdoor exhibition
Days Closed: None
Admission: Free

Beyond the Border - the Ocean

77 Sunport Takamatsu, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa 香川県高松市サンポート77


Naoshima is one of the main locations for the art festival, and there are many museums and artworks around the island that can be enjoyed year-round, not just during the festival. You will encounter many steep hills when going around the island, so renting an electric bicycle is recommended.

Yayoi Kusama, "Red Pumpkin"

Yayoi Kusama is famous around the world for her striking polka dot designs, which are on display in this piece as well. Visitors can actually enter inside this piece, located in the open space right next to the ferry boarding area on Naoshima. Taking in this piece while savoring the salty air is a must when in the area! The installation is quite delicate, though, so please be gentle and refrain from climbing on it.

(c)“Red Pumpkin” (c)Yayoi Kusama,2006 Naoshima Miyanoura Port Square

The pumpkin's interior is painted black, and sunlight comes through the holes in the walls, combining with lights in floor for a mysterious effect. Furthermore, the views of the outside scenery also change depending on from where you look, making each visitor's experience unique!

(c)“Red Pumpkin” (c)Yayoi Kusama,2006 Naoshima Miyanoura Port Square

Yayoi Kusama, "Red Pumpkin"

2249-49 Miyanoura, Naoshima-cho, Kagawa-gun, Kagawa 香川県香川郡直島町宮浦2249-49

Naoshima Pavilion

Japanese architect Sosuke Fujimoto created this work that is installed within walking distance from the ferry boarding area. The form of this pure white piece evokes a floating feeling and is set off wonderfully by the azure sky and Seto Inland Sea. Fujimoto's piece, a new landmark in the Miyanoura Port area, evokes the "floating island phenomenon" when viewed from shore, an effect that makes islands and ships appear to be floating in the sky when viewed from afar.

(c)Naoshima Pavilion Owner: Naoshima Town Architect: Sou Fujimoto Architects

Visitors can also enter inside this piece, and when they look up, the Setouchi sky will spread forth beyond the piece's geometric net patterns.

(c)Naoshima Pavilion Owner: Naoshima Town Architect: Sou Fujimoto Architects

Naoshima Pavilion

Naoshima-cho, Kagawa-gun, Kagawa 香川県香川郡直島町

Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art

This museum is located close to Hiroshima Station in a large park abounding with nature. The notable museum building, created by famous Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, reflects Hiroshima's history in many ways, with features including a layer of rubble from the bombing strewn about, as well as an aperture in the circular roof of the central area that is meant to represent the hypo-center of the blast.
The many special exhibitions of modern art here display a wide variety of themes and simply cannot be missed. It is also recommended that you walk around the outside of the building to take in the outdoor sculptures.

A Collection of Pieces Related to Hiroshima

This museum is also notable for its large collection of items pertaining to Hiroshima's history as the site of an atomic bomb blast. Artists both from Japan and abroad have expressed the concept of "Hiroshima" in a variety of ways here at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, resulting in a must-see collection that includes such works as "The Hiroshima Panels", a large work by Iri and Toshi Maruki could be said to be the couple's opus. The one-of-a-kind collection at this Hiroshima art museum and site of the bomb blast offers visitors a chance to reflect on peace and strife through art.
*This is a temporary exhibit.

Iri and Toshi Maruki, "The Atomic Bomb: Hiroshima", 1973

Outdoor Sculptures

Almost 20 pieces are installed in the greenery of the park surrounding the museum building. They may all collectively be referred to as "outdoor sculpture", but their forms and materials are highly varied, so why not explore a bit and find your own personal favorite? You can receive a map at the front desk inside the museum, which contains both sculpture locations and descriptions, that is sure to make your walk even more worthwhile.
*Some exhibits in the sculpture area are closed as of December, 2018. They will be available for viewing again once restoration work has been completed.

Phillip King, "Head", 1982 - 83

Henry Moore, "Arch", 1963/69, cast in 1985 - 86

Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (Entry until 30 minutes before closing).
Days Closed: Mondays, December 27 - January 1 (Closed the following weekday when Monday is a national holiday or if Monday falls on August, 6th)
Admission: Collection Exhibition - General 300 JPY, University students 200 JPY, High school student and guests 65 and over 150 JPY. Special Exhibition - Price subject to change depending on exhibit.
Middle school students and below free. High school students and below free on May 5. Free entry for all on November 3.
Address: 1-1 Hijiyama-koen, Minami-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima

Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art

1-1 Hijiyama-koen, Minami-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima 広島県広島市南区比治山公園1-1

Umi-Mori Art Museum

This museum stands in an elevated, scenic spot overlooking the ocean, with a view of both the large red torii gates of Itsukushima Shrine and the many islands of the Seto Inland Sea, including Miyajima. Many of works by the legendary Japanese modern painter Takeuchi Seiho are collected and on permanent display here. The pictured hanging scroll, "Shushin Haikashirasagi" ("Withered Lotus and Egret in Autumn"), consists of two pieces. On the left, an egret sleeps quietly, while a circling crow is depicted on the right, creating a juxtaposition between stillness and motion.


Ukiyo-e are genre paintings from the Edo period (1603 - 1868). Nishiki-e ("brocade prints"), colorful woodblock prints, is one well-known variety of these works of art, and is famous for having influenced the Impressionists of France. One especially famous work is Utagawa Hiroshige's "The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido", which depicts the road from Tokyo's contemporary Nihonbashi to Kyoto's Sanjo Ohashi. This museum also boasts the largest print of Utagawa Hiroshige's "bird and flower" prints in Japan.

This is Utagawa Hiroshige's "Kurodai / Kodai ni Sansho" ("Black Sea Bream & Small Sea Bream with Hot Pepper"). There are many other rare, must-see ukiyo-e in this museum's collection that were originally distributed only to individuals close to the artist, and were not not for sale.

Umi-Mori Art Museum

This is "Koi" ("The Carp"). The work is subtle, yet is said to have influenced many artists with its bold colors and way of expressing the movement of water.

Umi-Mori Art Museum

"The Gion Shrine in Snow" has a different feeling entirely, beautifully depicting geisha and Kyoto's Gion Shrine blanketed in snow.

Umi-Mori Art Museum


Monogatari-e ("fairy tale prints") date back to the Heian era (794 - 1192), and are depictions of fairy tales. This piece, "Henge Arasoi" ("The Shape-shifting Contest"), is from the Edo era, and shows the story of a man who hears beasts talking. It turns out that a fox and tanuki (racoon dog) are arguing, which turns into a shape-shifting contest. They transform into a demon, a great dragon, a pot, and a mortar, but the contest reaches no conclusion and eventually turns out to all be a dream that the man was having. This print depicts a demon on the right side, and a great dragon on the left.

Umi-Mori Art Museum

Valuable Perfume Bottles from Ancient Egypt to Modern Times

This is the only museum in Japan exhibiting perfume bottles that range from vessels thought to have been used for perfume in Egypt's Old Kingdom period (2972 B.C.E. - 2647 B.C.E.) to containers from the Middle ages, as well as modern times. Visitors can learn of the craftsmanship and history behind these vessels, or simply enjoy looking at their beautiful designs!

Umi-Mori Art Museum

Museum Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (*Entry until 30 minutes before closing)
Days Closed: Monday (*Closed the following Tuesday when Monday is a national holiday), during exhibition changes, February 11, May 7, November 11
Price of Admission: General 1,000 JPY, High school and university students 500 JPY, Middle school students and under free
Address: 701 Ono Kamegaoka, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima

Umi-Mori Art Museum

701 Ono Kamegaoka, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima 広島県廿日市市大野亀ヶ岡701

Okayama Kitchoan Museum

The famous Japanese confectionary Soke Minamoto Kitchoan runs this museum, the only place in the city of Okayama where Bizen ware, a traditional craft of this area, is displayed. Bizen wares are masterful creations, as they use absolutely no glaze (the glassy material applied on top of ceramic wares), and are created solely through being fired within straw-fueled kilns. The collection includes rare, highly-valued Ko-Bizen, old Bizen ware from before the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573 - 1603), as well as pieces made by a Living National Treasure.

This is a Bizen tanetsubo mizusashi (Bizen tea ceremony water pitcher), made in the Azuchi-Momoyama period. This ancient vessel is simple, yet possesses an attractive depth.

Kitaoji Rosanjin

Kitaoji Rosanjin (1883 - 1959) is known as a towering figure in the history of modern Japanese cuisine, as he had great influence on food and the arts. He possessed extraordinary talent and was active in a variety of fields, including calligraphy, cuisine, and ceramics. Many of Rosanjin's works are housed at the Kitchoan Museum and are available for viewing during special exhibits.
This is an Oribe manaita-zara (Oribe board-plate). The rectangular design of the board-plate is thought to have been invented by Rosanjin.

Visitors can also experience pottery making for themselves, thanks to the cooperation of Kaneshige Toyo, a Living National Treasure deeply involved in Bizen ware. These Bizen warizansho (small Bizen dishes) are some of the results of this effort!

Just looking at the many cute, small dishes is fun, such as the pictured "Irogawari Tatsuta-gawa Mukotsuke", but it is even more fun to try to imagine how food would be arranged on them!

Okayama Kitchoan Museum

Museum Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (*Entry until 30 minutes before closing)
Days Closed: 1st and 3rd Monday of the month (*Open on national holidays), beginning and end of the year, during exhibition changes
Price of Admission: Adults 600 JPY, Elementary and middle school students 300 JPY, Visitors 65 and over 480 JPY (*Children not yet in school free)
Address: 7-28 Saiwai-cho, Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama

Okayama Kitchoan Museum

7-28 Saiwai-cho, Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama 岡山県岡山市北区幸町7-2

Towel Museum

Imabari towels are renowned worldwide for their high quality and strong absorptive capacity, and this museum allows visitors to appreciate them from all manner of angles. There are a number of fun attractions here, such as a wall covered in spools of colorful thread, as well as another wall featuring spools of thread dyed subtly different colors to create in a gradation effect.

Wall of Spools

You will certainly want to visit this spot in the gallery (admission charged). Around 200 colors of thread, all actually used for creating towels, are collected in a stunning display here, with the rows lining the wall consisting of 1,800 spools.

Visitors can also view the towel making process here at this museum. The high-speed, automated process is a fascinating sight!

Towels can be purchased on the premises as well, so check out the high quality for yourself at the store. The photogenic "dress hanger towel" is a popular choice for pictures, and you are sure to find a color you like, as there are 40 colors offered here!

Towel Museum

Museum Hours: 9:30 am - 6:00 pm (Gallery viewing until 30 minutes before closing)
Open for extended hours every Saturday, as well as during 3-day weekends (*Except for the last day)
Days Closed: 3rd and 4th Tuesday in January
Gallery Admission: Adults 800 JPY, Middle and high school students 600 JPY, Elementary students 400 JPY
(*Shop and garden free)
Address: 2930 Asakura Kamiko, Imabari-shi, Ehime

Towel Museum

2930 Asakura Kamiko, Imabari-shi, Ehime 愛媛県今治市朝倉上甲2930

Fukuyama Auto & Clock Museum

A wide variety of wa-dokei (Japanese clocks) are collected here at this museum, including alarm clocks from the Edo period (1603 - 1868), tall yagura-dokei clocks developed from European designs, as well as Japan's unique makura-dokei, clocks featuring a vertical measuring design. This unusual museum has a truly one-of-a-kind collection, featuring clocks prized for their workmanship by enthusiastic collectors, as well as devices beyond clocks such as matchlock muskets, antique telephones, sewing machines, and consumer electronics from the 1960s. The eclectic display here truly has a little bit of everything!

Japanese classic car lovers rejoice! The vibrant car on the right in the picture is a Nissan Datsun Double Pickup 6000-U from 1954. The pale blue car is a Daihatsu Three-Wheeled Truck SSR from 1954, and on the back left is a Toyo Mazda K360 from 1962!
The collection doesn't stop at Japanese cars, and also features a wide selection of famous cars from over the years such as a Ford Model T Speedster from 1915, an MG-TD from 1951, and a Peugeot 203A from 1954.

Furthermore, the related Toshio & Michiko Noso Memorial Annex, located in Tomioka, Kasaoka, in the city of Okayama, is housed in a renovated merchant's shop built in the first year of the Meiji era (1868), and features a chaotic display of everything from inner working of clocks, gas stoves, and old home appliances to puppets and Buddhist altars.

As you listen to the various clocks on the wall counting time, you will be enveloped by this world of antiques and get the strange feeling that you've traveled through time to somewhere new! This museum is certainly worth checking out.

Fukuyama Auto & Clock Museum

Museum Hours: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Days Closed: None
Admission: Adults 900 JPY, Middle and high school students 600 JPY, Children (Ages 3 - 6th grade) 300 JPY, Visitors 65 and above 600 JPY
*Free of charge for high school stuends and under every Saturday, as well as May 5 (Children's Day) and June 10 (Time Day).
*Please confirm details on official homepage.
Address: 3-1-22 Kita Yoshizu-cho, Fukuyama-shi, Hiroshima

Fukuyama Auto & Clock Museum

3-1-22 Kita Yoshizu-cho, Fukuyama-shi, Hiroshima 広島県福山市北吉津町3-1-22

There certainly is a diverse mixture of spots featuring both new and old art around the Setouchi region, isn't there? Please do come and visit, and take in all of the sights this area has to offer!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

Recommended articles for you

Can't find it in a guidebook? Looking through this app will definitely make you want to go to Japan.
Sightseeing information to make you say "Wow!", updated every day!